How to Treat Back Pain


Beware the “big three” culprits of back pain: lack of exercise, bad posture, and lifting and reaching incorrect­ly. One of these probably caused your injury. If you don’t want back pain to become a constant companion, you need to work on these problems.

  • Fitness counts. Overall fitness makes a big differ­ence in the health of your back. Get out and pump up your heart by walking, biking, or swim­ming at least 30 minutes three or four times a week. Even a quick 10-minute walk is a good beginning. Before you know it, you’ll be up to a half hour or more of healthy, back-strengthening aerobic exercise.
  • Lighten the load. If you need to shed a few excess pounds, find a healthy eating plan and stick with it. That extra load around your middle puts a real strain on your back. Give it a break and lighten up.

Back Pain

  • Snuff it out. You have tons of reasons to stop smoking, and now you can add your aching back to that list, too. North Carolina researchers found that smokers tend to suffer more low back pain from on-the-job injuries. Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen to your back, or a nagging smoker’s cough, but the puffing may contribute to your dis­comfort.
  • Straighten up. Good posture not only makes you look younger and slimmer, it gives your organs a chance to work properly. It also strengthens your bones, muscles, and ligaments. It’s like giving your back a helping hand. It may surprise you to learn that the mus­cles in your abdomen provide some of the main support for your back. Keep them strong with this simple exercise: Pull your stomach muscles up and in, and stand up straight. Hold to a count of 10, then relax and repeat four or five times. Do this several times a day. It’s amazing how effective this simple exercise can be. Before you know it, your stomach will be flatter, and your back will be stronger. Practice good posture when you sit too. Slumping in a chair or on a sofa puts tremendous strain on your back. Try to sit comfortably straight. If your back begins to ache, relieve the pressure by putting one or both feet on a footstool or by getting up and moving around. A “lumbar pillow,” available at medical supply stores, or any small, firm pillow can relieve pain by supporting your lower back.
  • Consider the stress effect. Believe it or not, your mind may be the real problem when it comes to back pain. Are you having a hard time remember­ing how or when you got hurt? Do you ache in different parts of your neck, shoulders, lower back, buttocks, arms, or legs? Does the pain change from day to day or even hour to hour? If so, you may be suffering from TMS, or tension myositis syndrome. In his book Mind Over Back Pain, Dr. John Sarno says this pain is caused by emotional stress, such as anger or anxiety. Deal with your stress, says Dr. Sarno, and you will relieve your pain.
  • Baby your back. Whether you’re digging in the garden or scrubbing your kitchen floor, be kind to your back. Don’t bend and twist at the same time. Keep your back as straight as you can, and move your arms and legs smoothly. Use tools with long handles to avoid leaning over. To reach something on a high shelf, put one foot in front of the other and push off from your back foot as you reach up. Don’t stretch your back into an awkward position. If it’s difficult to reach, use a sturdy step stool, or wait for a taller friend to get it. Don’t try to lift heavy things above shoulder height.
  • Give yourself a little lift. Don’t bend over when lifting something from the ground, especially if it’s heavy. Use your knees to squat down, then let your legs lift the burden instead of your back.

  • Brace yourself. If you do a lot of heavy lifting at work or at home, think “weight lifter,” and get yourself a back brace. This corset-like contraption supports your back the same way a wide leather belt supports real weight lifters. In a California study of workers at large warehouse-style stores, back braces reduced injuries by one third.
  • Every bit of time and effort you invest in caring for your back will pay huge dividends in return. Exercise, good posture, and a little tender loving care will keep the “workhorse” of your body fit and pain free well into your golden years.
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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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